Dear Alumni and Friends,

Last fall our new president, Paul Alivisatos, AB’81, asked each major unit in the University to prepare an “immersion day” for him. On December 3, he met more than 70 of the Humanities Division’s faculty members, students, staff, and key volunteers; heard about the work of our departments, centers, and institutes; and visited our physical spaces. Although we touched on multiple topics, the day’s discussions centered on two things: the distinction of our division and the quality of our graduate education.

Perhaps the Humanities Division’s most obvious mark of distinction is its legendary interdisciplinarity. Productive interactions among departments within and outside the division proliferate in our “no walls” environment. To maintain this culture, the division strives to hire and retain the most promising junior faculty and the most accomplished senior scholars. With the pursuit of important new knowledge as our principal mission, our 210 faculty regularly make exciting new discoveries and develop new interpretations that propel their disciplines to the next level.

While research is our primary goal, educating the next generation of humanists is also imperative. The University of Chicago is fully committed to supporting doctoral students as they complete their degrees, allowing them to thoughtfully work through their dissertation subjects. The COVID-19 pandemic, on top of the already challenging job market for humanities PhDs, recently prompted us to create new placement options for our graduates. Thanks to your generosity, we are able to offer several teaching fellowships and named postdoctoral fellowships. These fellowships provide our new PhDs up to two years of support, giving them teaching experience and time to begin publishing their work as they seek employment within and beyond academia.

Finally, as we emphasized to the president, the Humanities Division is creative and resourceful. We meet challenges head-on, we implement visionary programs, and we work to underscore the crucial importance of the humanities in the world. It is a testament to the excellence of our faculty and students that our division maintains its superior standing—not least because UChicago’s endowment is 20 percent of the size of our wealthiest peers’. And here is where our supporters, time and again, make all the difference. Your involvement in the UChicago community adds immeasurably to our success. For everything you do for the Humanities Division, we are extremely grateful.

Anne Walters Robertson
Dean, Division of the Humanities
Claire Dux Swift Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Music

Photo Creds: 
Photography by John Zich